World War II American Bombers: B-24 and B-17

B24 Liberator – The “Strawberry Bitch” – Served with the 512nd Bomb Squadron, 376th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force based in Libya and Italy. It had interesting nose art. Some say that the red-headed babe painted on the side had not a stitch of clothing on, when the plane was serving in action. http://www.hauntedhouses.com/states/oh/air_force_museum-4.cfm100_0736 

The B-24 Liberator was produced in greater numbers than the B-17 Flying Fortress, with over 18,000 B-24s built.  It had a bomb load of 8,000 pounds and was equipped with six .50-caliber machine guns in the nose, top and sides, and four .303-caliber machine guns in the tail.  It had great range of 2,200 miles and could fly at 28,000 feet at 290 miles per hour.  The plane had many variants serving in many roles from bombing to maritime patrol to transport to fueling.  The plane is most noted for raiding deep into Nazi territory and destroying the oil fields at Ploesti.  While the mission succeeded in stopping oil production at Ploesti for a time, the Liberators paid a heavy price, with only 33 of 177 planes returning to their base in condition to fly again.  Liberators were prone to catch fire and their lightweight construction couldn’t take the battle damage dished out by experienced Luftwaffe pilots and anti-aircraft batteries.




B-17 Flying Fortress:  Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby

While not produced in as great of numbers as the B-24, the B-17 Flying Fortress has a superior reputation because of its rugged design and ability to absorb battle damage.  This high level bomber repeatedly carried the war to the Nazi homeland with devastating consequences on Nazi cities and industry.  Capable of delivering up to 17,000 pounds of bombs at a range of 2,000 miles it flew at high levels above thirty thousand feet at speeds of around 200 miles per hour.  The plane carried an immense amount of fire power with thirteen .50-caliber machines guns strategically placed over the entire plane.


Because of damage the Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby ended up interred in Sweden.  The following is an account of how the plane ended up in Swedish hands.

“Soon after we crossed the German border, we lost number three engine, I believe because of losing oil pressure. Bob could not get the prop feathered (rotated 90° to put the blade edge perpendicular to the airflow). It continued to windmill (turn without power in the airflow) the entire trip with no vibration. We attempted to stay in formation with three engines but found this impossible and had to drop out. We continued on course to the best of my ability. We were losing altitude but continued to the target and dropped our bombs.

Flying alone toward the Baltic Sea, we saw many German fighters attacking formations of B-17s and could not understand why they didn’t pick us out as a straggler. Before we reached the Baltic Sea, we lost the second engine, and the decision had to be made to go to Sweden because we could not make it back to England. Bob asked for a course to Sweden, and I charted one to a little town called Ystad in the very southernmost part of Sweden.

All loose equipment, including machine guns, radio equipment, and clothing, was thrown overboard in order to lighten the ship. An attempt was made to drop the ball turret, but it wouldn’t move.

As we approached the coastline, Bob was interested in knowing whether or not it was Sweden. I confidently stated that it was, but after the flak started coming up as we got over land, I wasn’t so sure. All of it was low, and I believe the Swedes were just telling us ‘Don’t try anything.’ Just before we reached land we lost the third engine, and we were losing altitude fast. A Swedish (J-9) fighter came up and led us to Malmö, Sweden, where a B-24, also in trouble, landed just ahead of us. Actually, we had to swing wide to keep from colliding.”



The Strawberry Bitch and the Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby can be found at http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/

2 Responses to “World War II American Bombers: B-24 and B-17”

  1. 1 B Brown
    August 12, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Is there a listing of the pilots who flew the “Strawberry Bitch”, since it was used in a training capacity when it got to Italy? If so, would my uncles name be on the registry? His name was Lt. Benjamin B. Chase. KIA 23 Feb. 44. Steyer Mission

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July 2008

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